AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Roseanna McCoy
Director: Irving Reis (Dir)
Release Date:   20 Aug 1949
Premiere Information:   World premiere in Wheeling, WV: 18 Aug 1949
Production Date:   16 Oct 1948--mid-Feb 1949; retakes early Mar--4 Apr 1949
Duration (in mins):   89
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Farley Granger (Johnse Hatfield)  
  Introducing Joan Evans (Roseanna McCoy)  
    Charles Bickford (Devil Anse Hatfield)  
    Raymond Massey (Old Randall McCoy)  
    Richard Basehart (Mounts Hatfield)  
    Gigi Perreau (Allifair McCoy)  
    Aline MacMahon (Sarie McCoy)  
    Marshall Thompson (Tolbert McCoy)  
    Lloyd Gough (Phamer McCoy)  
    Peter Miles (Little Randall McCoy)  
    Arthur Franz (Thad Wilkins)  
    Frank Ferguson (Ellison Hatfield)  
    Elisabeth Fraser (Bess McCoy)  
    Hope Emerson (Levisa Hatfield)  
    Dan White (Abel Hatfield)  
    Mabel Paige (Grandma Sykes)  
    Almira Sessions (Cousin Zinny)  
    William Mauch (Cap Hatfield)  
    Sherman Sanders (Dance caller)  
    Jerry Andersen (Young Hatfield)  
    Donald Gordon (Young Hatfield)  
    Alan Bridge (Medicine seller)  
    Bert Goodrich (Strong man)  
    Cliff Clark (Red-faced man)  
    Hank Mann (Vendor)  
    John "Skins" Miller (Barker)  
    Lester Dorr (Barker)  
    Pat Flaherty (Joe McCoy)  
    Chuck Hamilton (A McCoy)  
    Gerald Courtemarche (Hatfield boy)  
    Ray Hyke (Hatfield)  
    Ethan Laidlaw (Hatfield)  
    Guy Wilkerson (Hatfield)  
    Al Kunde (Hatfield)  
    Robert O'Neil (Hatfield)  
    Rory Mallinson (Hatfield)  
    James Kirkwood (Hatfield)  
    Pat Walshe (Hatfield)  
    Dawn Hudson (Girl)  
    Corrine Van Lissel    
    Ida Moore    
    Myra Marsh    
    Ruth Sanderson    
    Gertrude W. Hoffman    

Summary: Toward the end of the nineteenth century, in the Kentucky hills, Old Randall McCoy reminds his sons, Tolbert and Little Randall, about their long-standing enmity with the Hatfields, a coarse, impoverished clan that lives across the Big Sandy river in West Virginia. Later, at the country fair, Old Randall's daughter Roseanna is picking flowers for a picnic table when she is stung by a hornet, and handsome Johnse Hatfield comes to her aid. As soon as she finds out who he is, she reviles his clan for having shot and injured her mother years before. Johnse protests that his kinsman Mounts, who fired the shot, is half mad, but Roseanna leaves in anger. That evening, during the square-dancing, Johnse takes Roseanna aside and tells her that she will be his, then kisses her, unaware that Little Randall is watching from the bushes. Roseanna is entranced by Johnse, and when her beau, shopkeeper Thad Wilkins, proposes to her several days later, she sadly tells him she can never marry him because she is "bad." Later that night, a sleepless Roseanna goes outside and finds Johnse waiting for her. He carries her across the river on his horse and introduces her to his parents, Devil Anse and Levisa, as his future bride. Although Anse objects to their marriage, he warms to the idea of renewing hostilities with the McCoys, and he and his older sons, Ellison and Cap, head to the old fort to prepare for battle. Johnse goes in search of a preacher to perform the marriage, leaving Roseanna with his mother, and the two women begin to forge a relationship. That evening, word arrives that Cap has been crippled in an accident at the fort. While Anse and Levisa are tending to their son at the fort, the psychotic Mounts, who has bitter memories of his own father's death at the hands of the McCoys, slips away and goes to Anse's cabin. He menaces Roseanna with a knife, but Anse, who has followed Mounts, rescues her. Johnse returns later and says he was unable to find the preacher. The next day, Roseanna is getting water when Little Randall, having guessed her whereabouts, approaches her, and she agrees to go home with him. She bids Johnse goodbye, making plans for him to call on her father the following night. The next evening, on his way to meet the McCoys, Johnse stops at Thad's general store while Tolbert and Little Randall are shopping there with their older brother Phamer. The Hatfield men enter, and Mounts starts a brawl. When Little Randall attempts to defend his uncle with a knife, Mounts shoots him, and the fight quickly escalates into a shootout. Meanwhile, Roseanna has just convinced her father to talk with Johnse when Thad comes to the door with the wounded Tolbert and reports that Little Randall has been hurt and is trapped in the store with the Hatfields. Roseanna follows her father and Thad to the store, and after ordering his kinsmen to hold their fire, Johnse lets her in. Mounts then uses Roseanna, Johnse and Little Randall as shields to escape, and Randall declares all-out war against the Hatfields. During the fighting at the fort, Johnse sneaks out to meet Roseanna. Mounts follows them and is about to shoot the lovers, but Johnse shoots and injures him. Roseanna and Johnse then mount her horse, planning to ride to find the preacher, and when Mounts prepares to fire at them, Anse shoots and kills him. Both sides then stop shooting, and everyone watches as Johnse and Roseanna ride off together. 

Production Company: Samuel Goldwyn Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Irving Reis (Dir)
  Nicholas Ray (Dir of retakes)
  Joe Boyle (Asst dir)
Producer: Samuel Goldwyn (Pres)
  Samuel Goldwyn (Prod)
Writer: John Collier (Scr)
Photography: Lee Garmes (Dir of photog)
  Harry Webb (Cam op)
  Vic Jones (Gaffer)
  Harold McAlpin (Stills)
Art Direction: George Jenkins (Art dir)
Film Editor: Daniel Mandell (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Julia Heron (Set dec)
Costumes: Mary Wills (Cost)
Music: David Buttolph (Mus)
  Jerome Moross (Orch)
  Emil Newman (Mus dir)
Sound: Fred Lau (Sd rec)
Dance: Billy Daniels (Dances staged by)
Make Up: Robert Stephanoff (Makeup)
  Marie Clark (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Raoul Pagel (Prod mgr)
  A. D. Schroeder (Asst prod mgr)
  James Yarbrough (Scr supv)
  Ralph Hoge (Grip)
Country: United States

Songs: "Roseanna," music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.
Composer: Frank Loesser
Source Text: Based on the novel Roseanna McCoy by Alberta Hannum (New York, 1947).
Authors: Alberta Hannum

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Samuel Goldwyn Productions, Inc. 16/8/1949 dd/mm/yyyy LP2496 Yes

PCA NO: 13705
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

Genre: Romance
Sub-Genre: Rural
Subjects (Major): Appalachian Region
  Family relationships
  Hatfield family
  McCoy family
Subjects (Minor): Cabins
  General stores
  Square dances
  West Virginia
  Wounds and injuries

Note: The order of Joan Evans' billing was different in the opening and closing credits. Evans, who at age fourteen made her debut in the picture, is listed sixth in the opening credits and second in the end credits. As depicted in the film, the Hatfield and McCoy clans carried on a bloody feud in the Kentucky-West Virginia border area, beginning in 1882, when Ellison Hatfield was killed in a brawl and three McCoy brothers, Tolbert, Phamer and Randolph, Jr., were murdered in retaliation. In 1888, a posse of McCoys crossed the border into West Virginia and brought nine members of the Hatfield clan back to Kentucky to stand trial for a New Year's Day attack in which two more of Randolph McCoy's children were killed. West Virginia challenged the legality of taking the Hatfields across state lines, and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the men could be tried in Kentucky. Johnson "Johnse" Hatfield and Rose Anna McCoy did have a brief love affair in 1880, but the McCoys opposed the romance and eventually broke it up.
       In Jun 2000, the Hatfields and McCoys held a formal gathering at the site of their former feud to declare peace, and in Jun 2003, the families assembled in Pikeville, Kentucky, where more than sixty descendents signed a symbolic proclamation of peace that read, in part, "We ask by God's grace and love that we be forever remembered as those that bound together the hearts of two families to form a family of freedom in America."
       An 8 Sep 1948 article in LADN reported that noted cinematographer Gregg Toland had developed a new camera technique, called "ultimate focus," which would be used for the first time in Roseanna McCoy . However, it is not known if this technique, which involved a special lens that could stop the lens aperture of the camera at f.64, was used, as Toland died on 28 Sep 1948, before the start of production. According to a 19 Mar 1948 HR news item, Cathy O'Donnell was originally cast in the title role. Composer David Buttolph was borrowed from Warner Bros. for the production, and Nicholas Ray, who directed the retakes, was borrowed from RKO. A 14 Jan 1949 news item in HR reported that Ben Hecht had written a new ending to the film, but the extent of his contribution to the final film has not been determined. Some scenes in the film were shot on location in Sonora, California.
       An 11 Aug 1949 HR news item announced that the film would have a four-state premiere, in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, on 17 Aug. According to news items, Samuel Goldwyn invited descendants of the warring clans to screenings in West Virginia and Kentucky. The HR review noted that the film was the first to depict the Hatfield-McCoy feud onscreen. The feud was also the subject of a television movie, The Hatfields and the McCoys , which was broadcast by the ABC network on 15 Jan 1975 and starred Jack Palance. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   20 Aug 1949.   
Daily Variety   17 Aug 49   p. 3, 11
Film Daily   18 Aug 49   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Mar 48   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Sep 48   p 2.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Oct 48   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Oct 48   p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Nov 48   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Dec 48   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Jan 49   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Feb 49   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Mar 49   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Mar 49   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Apr 49   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Aug 49   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Aug 49   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Aug 49   p. 3, 7
Los Angeles Daily News   8 Sep 1948.   
Los Angeles Daily News   21 Jun 1949.   
Los Angeles Daily News   17 Sep 1949.   
Los Angeles Times   11 Jun 2000   p. 1, 34-35.
Los Angeles Times   15 Jun 2003   p. 22.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   20 Aug 49   p. 4722.
New York Times   13 Oct 49   p. 33.
Variety   17 Aug 49   p. 8.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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